The Program team is composed of experienced multidisciplinary transplant professionals who are accomplished in clinical research, outcome studies and transplant management. They are responsible for operating and evaluating the program.
University of Kansas School of MedicineKansas City, KS
University of MichiganAnn Arbor, MI
Department of PsychiatryWashington University School of MedicineSt. Louis, MO
Consultant, Division of Transplant Surgery, Mayo ClinicPhoenix, AZ
American Society of Transplant SurgeonsArlington, VA
Dr. Akinlolu Ojo is the Executive Dean of the University of Kansas School of Medicine. Dr. Ojo received his medical education from the University of Lagos, Nigeria and residency training in internal medicine at the University of Kentucky. He completed a nephrology fellowship, PhD in Epidemiologic Science and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) at the University of Michigan. Dr. Ojo's research interests include clinical transplantation and chronic kidney disease with a particular focus on African Americans and developing countries. He has authored over 120 peer-reviewed publications and has served on the editorial boards of several journals and on NIH study sections.
Dr. Ojo maintains an active clinical and translational research program with a portfolio of both NIH and industry funding. He is member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation. Dr. Ojo maintains active research collaboration with investigators in Austria, Brazil, Ghana, Jamaica, Nigeria, South Africa, Spain and Taiwan. Dr. Ojo currently works with the Ministries of Health of several Caribbean countries to improve access to kidney disease care, including dialysis treatment and kidney transplantation. Dr. Ojo was previously the Associate Vice President for Clinical Research and Global Health Initiatives at the University of Arizona Health Sciences in the Office of the Senior Vice President for Health Sciences. Dr. Ojo came to that position from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he served as Professor of Medicine and the Inaugural Florence E. Bingham Research Professor in Nephrology. Dr. Ojo is an internationally recognized physician-scientist with expertise in chronic kidney disease kidney and kidney-pancreas transplantation and Global Health Research. He is the Program Director for the HRSA/DOT-funded National Living Donor Assistance Center (NLDAC), which provides reimbursement to financially needy live organ donors for non-medical expenses incurred in the process of donating an organ.
Dr. Merion is Professor Emeritus of Surgery at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he was a leading transplant surgeon for more than 30 years. He served for 14 years as president and chief executive officer of Arbor Research Collaborative for Health and is also a past president of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons. Dr. Merion has directed multiple federally funded organ transplantation research and public policy projects. His work, published in highly respected peer-reviewed journals and presented at national and international scientific meetings, has garnered global recognition.
Dr. Merion has served as the NLDAC Program Deputy Director since the inception of the HRSA-funded Living Organ Donation Reimbursement Program. In this capacity he serves as the lead research scientist responsible for directing the operations of the research/statistical analysis core and deputizes for all the duties and responsibilities of the Program Director as needed.
Barry Hong is a Professor of Psychiatry and Internal Medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO. Dr. Hong has a Master in Divinity Degree from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis and received his PhD in Psychology from St. Louis University. He is board certified in clinical psychology from the American Board of Professional Psychology. He serves as the Vice-Chairman for Clinical Affairs in the Department of Psychiatry and the Chief Psychologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. He has had numerous appointments in the area of organ transplantation. He has served as a Psychological Consultant to Mid-America Transplant Services since 1992 and has been a member of the Advisory Council and is the present Chairman of the Missouri Kidney Program. In addition, he has worked with the liver and renal divisions at Washington University and has been an active member of the kidney and liver transplant services.
Dr. Hong is currently an Associate Editor for the Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings and has previously served as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology and PsycCRITIQUES. Both are journals of the American Psychological Association. He has authored 50 peer-reviewed publications and has received Honors from the American Psychopathological Association, Missouri Psychological Association and Divisions of Health Psychology and Clinical Psychology of the American Psychological Association.
Dr. Hong will provide content expertise to the development of data collection instruments. He will serve as the lead scientist for methodologic issues. He will lead the effort in refining research hypotheses to be tested. He will work closely with the staff in Research/Statistical Analysis Core to ensure integrity of the data collection and evaluation.
Dr. Mathur is an Assistant Professor of Surgery in the Division of Transplant Surgery at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona. His clinical practice includes living donor and deceased donor transplant of the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. Dr. Mathur completed his his undergraduate and medical degrees at the University of Florida, and his internship, residency and transplant surgery fellowship in the the University of Michigan Health System. Dr. Mathur also completed a Master of Science in Health and Health Care Research through the University of Michigan School of Public Health in 2010. Dr. Mathur is board-certified in general surgery and has completed an ASTS multi-organ abdominal transplant fellowship. He was awarded research funding from the National Institute of Health and the Center for Integrative Approaches to Health Disparities in 2008 and 2012. Dr. Mathur has published over 30 peer-reviewed articles, books and book chapters. His academic interests span several areas of health services research in end organ failure, organ donation, and transplantation.
Dr. Mathur is the Program Evaluation Specialist for the National Living Donor Assistance Center. He is responsible for the development and reporting of program metrics under the direction of the Project Director and Deputy Director. Dr. Mathur is also responsible for identifying broader program implications on transplantation via dataset linkages with relevant demographic and transplant databases.
Ms. Kebler Bullock is the Executive Director/CEO of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons. She joined ASTS in 2011 and since joining, has served in several roles focused initially on fellowship training and education. In 2015, she turned her efforts towards grants and fundraising and served as ASTS’s Director of Development in 2019, before transitioning to the ASTS Executive Director in January 2021. She drives strategy, implements board directives, and ensures ongoing success of the Society and its affiliated Foundation. She has secured high-level, multi-year commitments from key corporate partners to secure grant funding for programs in research and education. She is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE), a 500-hr yoga teacher and spends the remainder of her time with her husband and 3 kids.
Ms. Kebler-Bullock will provide managerial leadership in overall administration of the project and will prepare financial reports as well as ensure quality controls.
Marie-Claire Walters joined NLDAC in August 2017. Ms. Walters graduated summa cum laude from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 2013 with a dual BA in Philosophy and Spanish. At Clark University, she was awarded the David Saltman Prize for excellence in philosophy. Ms. Walters was an English teacher in the Chilean public school system for two years prior to joining NLDAC. She is fluent in Spanish, Italian and Catalan.
Ms. Walters oversees the day-to-day operational activities of the program and implements program improvements, ensuring compliance with the policies and procedures and federal guidelines. She supervises the operations team, monitors program spending, oversees the website content, and writes the newsletter. Ms. Walters also provides support to Spanish-speaking donors, transplant professionals, and members of the public.
Catherine Kuo joined NLDAC as a Program Assistant in August 2020. She graduated from the University of California, Davis with BAs in History and Chinese. She is proficient in Mandarin Chinese and Japanese.
As the Assistant Coordinator, Ms. Kuo manages the NLDAC Advisory Group, maintains the program data report, and supervises the processing of applications. With other members of the operations team, she educates the public about the program, processes applications, disburses financial assistance, and supports applicants throughout the donation process.
Ms. Walz leads outreach efforts at NLDAC, engaging the transplant community to improve awareness and utilization of the program. She is responsible for NLDAC’s educational materials, gives talks about the program, and advises transplant centers on how to increase their NLDAC usage. She also participates in the processing of applications and provides funding to living donors.
Before joining NLDAC in 2022, Ms. Walz worked as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute. In that role, she implemented an effective system for optimizing NLDAC utilization and filed hundreds of NLDAC applications. She presented alongside NLDAC at the 2021 STSW conference and was a participant in the NLDAC Best Practices Workshop in 2018. Ms. Walz has been a member of the STSW Living Donation Committee since 2019 and obtained her CCTSW credentialing in 2020. Ms. Walz earned her Bachelor's in Social Work from Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA and her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh.
April Bruce joined NLDAC as the Senior Program Assistant in 2021. As a member of the operations team, she processes applications and provides service to donors, recipients, and transplant professionals. She also leads an outreach program for centers with multicultural waitlist populations.
Previously, Ms. Bruce was a transplant social worker at the University of Kentucky Transplant Center, working with living kidney donors for 4 years and with kidney recipients for 5 years. She has a passion for transplant, especially living donation. April graduated from the University of Kentucky College of Social Work with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work in 1989 and a Master of Social Work in 1992. Besides transplant, April also has experience with community agencies, geriatrics, hospice and supervising social work students.
Joanna Giddens joined NLDAC as a Program Assistant in August 2020, with a background in community engagement and administrative support. She has a Master of Social Work degree from Washington University in Saint Louis and an undergraduate degree in Art Practice from the University of California, Berkeley. Before joining NLDAC, she worked at Grace Meridian Hill church as the Community Life Coordinator. Ms. Giddens has worked with diverse populations through Americorps, social and economic development programs and other altruistic nonprofits.
As a Program Assistant, Ms. Giddens provides administrative support to NLDAC, educating the public about the program, processing applications, disbursing financial assistance, and supporting applicants throughout the donation process. She manages NLDAC's social media accounts, records financial donations, and prepares invoices.
Jean Hwang, MA, joined NLDAC as a Program Assistant in December 2021. Prior to joining NLDAC, she worked with non-profits in the Washington, D.C. area supporting research and program management. She also spent time abroad implementing women’s reproductive health and post-traumatic stress disorder relief education programs in countries like Nepal and Tanzania. She has a master’s degree in International Relations.
As a Program Assistant, Ms. Hwang provides administrative support to NLDAC, educating the public about the program, processing applications, administering financial assistance, and supporting applicants throughout the donation process.
Jared Stern joined NLDAC as a Program Assistant in November 2022. Prior to joining NLDAC, he worked as the Assistent Administrator of a long term care facility facility as well as in marketing for assisted living communities. More recently he worked as the Business Development Executive of a Digital Media Agency in Orange County, California.
As a Program Assistant, Mr. Stern provides administrative support to NLDAC, educating the public about the program, processing applications, administering financial assistance, and supporting applicants throughout the donation process.
The Advisory Group was established to assist the National Living Donor Assistance Center in:
The Advisory Group meets annually, holds periodic conference calls, and is comprised of a kidney donor, liver donor, transplant surgeons, transplant physicians, transplant nurse coordinator, transplant social worker, health economist, social scientist, financial administrator and a HRSA representative. Below is a list of current Advisory Group members.
American Society of Transplant SurgeonsSurgical Director, Living Donor Liver TransplantationUT Health San AntonioSan Antonio, TX
Transplant SurgeonLiving Donor Liver Transplantation
Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education Program (MOTTEP)Director, Public Education and Community Relations, Community Outreach Manager and DirectorMOTTEP, Gift of Life MichiganAnn Arbor, MI
Transplant EducationCommunity Health Education
American Society of Transplantation (AST)Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of MedicineStanford UniversityStanford, CA
Transplant Financial Coordinators AssociationTransplant Financial CoordinatorSUNY Upstate Medical UniversitySyracuse, NY
Transplant Financial CoordinationTrustee, Transplant Financial Coordinators Association
National Kidney FoundationAttorneyPiotrowski Durand PLLCBoise, ID
Living Donor Kidney Transplant RecipientPatient Advocacy
Professor, Department of Social and Behavioral SciencesTemple UniversityPhiladelphia, PA
Public Health/Social and Behavioral SciencesCommunity Engaged ResearchMember, ASN, AST, American Public Health Association, The Transplantation Society, International Society for Organ Donation and Procurement
UNOS Transplant Administrators CommitteeSenior Director/Transplant AdministratorCincinnati Children’s HospitalCincinnati, OH
Leadership in Transplant Administration, Operations, and Strategic Planning
United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS)Professor, Department of Population Health Science and PolicyIcahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai HospitalNew York, NY
President, UNOSDirector, Zweig Family Center for Living DonationMember, NATCO, AST
American Society of NephrologyProfessor of MedicineMedical Director of Living DonationSt. Louis UniversitySt. Louis, MO
Chair, OPTN/UNOS Living Donor CommitteeMember, SRTR Steering CommitteeFormer Director, NKF SCM Transplant Physicians’ Program and Kidney Transplant CourseNKF Shaul G. Massry Award Recipient
North American Transplant Coordinators Organization (NATCO)Transplant Nurse PracticitionerUniversity of Virginia Health System Transplant DepartmentCharlottesville, VA
Transplant CoordinationBoard Member, NATCO
Assistant Professor, Department of EconomicsGeorgia State UniversityAtlanta, GA
Health EconomicsMember, American Economic Association, American Society of Health Economists, Southern Economic Association
Living kidney donorNovant Health, Vice President and Deputy General CounselCharlotte, NC
Past-president, UNOSLiving kidney donor
The National Forum of End Stage Renal Disease Networks (ESRD)Executive Director, ESRD Network 5Richmond, VA
ESRD Administration; Chair, Executive Directors Advisory Committee of the Forum of ESRD Networks
Director, Patient Engagement, Diversity, and Education, Department of Surgery and J.C. Walter Jr. Transplant CenterHouston Methodist HospitalHouston, TX
Founder, Explore Transplant and Explore Living DonationMember, AST Psychosocial Community of Practice, Transplantation Living Donor COP, Women’s Health COP
Society of Transplant Social Workers (STSW)Transplant Social Worker, Independent Living Donor AdvocateAdventHealth Transplant InstituteOrlando, FL
Transplant Social WorkerSTSW Living Donor Committee Chair, Lung Committee MemberBoard Member, Bartch Transplant House at AdventHealth
Director, Division of TransplantationHealth Resources and Services AdministrationRockville, MD
Federal Program Oversight
Public Health AnalystHealth Systems Bureau, Division of TransplantationHealth Resources and Services AdministrationRockville, MD
Division of TransplantationHealth Resources and Services AdministrationRockville, MD
Chief, Operations and Donation Education Branch, Division of TransplantationHealth Resources and Services AdministrationRockville, MD